Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

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Preheat the oven to 475. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add three Russet potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces. The smaller you cut the potatoes, the crispier they’ll be. Boil the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes. Drain. Put the potatoes back in the pot, hold the lid on and give the potatoes two good shakes. The fluffy bits become the crispy bits.

Add 1/4 cup olive oil to a roasting pan and place in the oven for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange potatoes in a single layer in the roasting pan. Top with 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary and 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt. Reduce the oven temperature to 425. Cook 45 minutes to an hour. Serve hot.

These are also the basis for Papas Borrachas.

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Baked Ziti

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To 1 3/4 cups plain tomato sauce, add 5 cloves of roasted garlic, minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup minced fresh basil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together and set to the side.

Heavily salt a pan of water and bring to a boil. Add 3 cups ziti and cook according to al dente instructions. Drain well. Mix the noodles and around 2/3 of the sauce together in a large bowl.

In either three small spring pans or one large spring pan, stand your saucy noodles on end. This is best accomplished by holding or propping the spring pan nearly vertical and using a small flat silicone spatula to transfer the noodles from the bowl to the spring pan. Once full, return pan to a flat position and spoon sauce over, using the back of a spoon to encourage the sauce into the noodles. Top with shredded mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a dash of bread crumbs.

Cook in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or until mozzarella is melted. Broil the tops to get them golden brown. Remove from the oven and the spring pan and top with fresh topped basil. You can serve it atop meat sauce if you’d like it that way.

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Chicken Stock

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To a large stock pot add the bones of one chicken, 2 quartered onions, 3 quartered carrots (scrubbed but not peeled), 3 chopped ribs of celery, 1 large leek (quartered with the greens and ends discarded), 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, 4 sprigs fresh parsley, 3 small bay leaves, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 3 cloves peeled garlic and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Cover all this goodness with water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Keep simmering, partially covered, for 8-10 hours. Check in on it often and add water as needed. Pour through a colander and use as you normally use broth.

If you’re in a hurry or don’t want as full a flavor, you can remove the mixture from the heat when it begins to smell and taste like chicken (about three hours). If you do this, I recommend adding another teaspoon of salt.

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Pão de Queijo

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If you’re looking for a bread that’s lovely and melty and that you don’t have to let rise in a bowl for an hour, this has your name all over it. It comes together in a blender and uses a muffin tin. It also doesn’t require the use of yeast so it feels less intimidating as far as breads go.

In a blender (I use our trusty mini food processor) combine: 1 room temperature egg, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup water, 1 1/2 cup tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch, sold at Sprouts from Bob’s Mill), 1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used feta) and 1 teaspoon salt. That’s the basic recipe. I added 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and a pinch of cayenne for some extra flavor. Change these according to whatever sort of cheese you use. Pulse until everything is combined into a batter.

Spoon into mini muffin tins (I like these from Wilton) greased lightly with olive oil. Fill the muffin tin to the brim. This recipe should make 16 full mini muffins.

Cook at 350 for 35 minutes. Cool briefly but serve warm.

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Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

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Wash and skin 2 medium sweet potatoes. Cut into 1/4″ matchsticks; soak in cool water for at least one hour.

Drain sweet potatoes, pat dry with paper towels. Add to large gallon sized ziploc with 2 tablespoons corn starch. Toss until evenly coated.

In a large bowl, combine corn starch coated matchsticks, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Do NOT add salt at this stage or you’ll have soggy fries. Them’s the breaks.

Spread matchsticks out on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet. You want to leave some space on the sheets so the potatoes can crisp up. Bake at 400 for approximately 40 minutes, until crisp. Some will blacken. They’re tasty nonetheless. Once removed from the oven, sprinkle with coarse sea salt or kosher salt. Serve with sriracha ketchup if you’re bold.

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Cinnamon Cardamom Challah

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It took some time, but I’ve finally gotten my challah just how I like it.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk 1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons for those who use jars of yeast) and 1 teaspoon of honey into 2/3 cup of warm water. You want the water to feel warm to your hand, but not hot (about 110 degrees). Let this hang out until it gets foamy, about 10 minutes. With a spoon, mix in 1/4 cup honey, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 large eggs, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 4 cups flour, 4 teaspoons ground cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon sweet almond extract and 1 teaspoon vanilla. When it begins to hold together like a dough, let your stand mixer’s dough hook take over and knead about 6 minutes on low. Remove this dough ball to a lightly floured surface, give that stand mixer bowl a quick wash, dry it, and use olive oil to lightly coat the inside of the bowl. Transfer the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in one of the warm areas in your house to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

To make by hand, follow as above until the dough begins to take shape in your mixing bowl, then turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes, until it feels smooth and stretchy. Clean and oil your mixing bowl, return the dough to the oiled bowl and let rise.

At some point during your rise, mix together: 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. This is also a great time to decide what you want your braid to look like. The braid pictured is a three strand braid formed into a circle. If you’re doing a four strand braid, divide your dough into halves instead of into thirds, and, after stretching your two ropes, cut in half. If this all seems overwhelming, there are some great YouTube videos that show different ways to braid challah, and you’ve got an hour before you have to make big decisions. Go forth and conquer.

After the dough has doubled in size, cut into three roughly even dough balls. One by one, roll these out into a rectangle. Using a sifter, sift the cinnamon sugar mixture over your dough, focusing on the center. Roll along the longest end to give yourself a cigar-shaped dough rope. Stretch the ropes to give yourself lots of braiding material. For the donut shape pictured, braid the three ropes together as you would a normal braid, then shape into a donut and pinch the ends of the ropes together. I like to braid first then shape the braid around a glass to keep the shape round, before pinching the ends together. Transfer your braided dough to a silicone or parchment lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk one egg and a tablespoon of water together. Using a pastry brush, brush this egg-wash onto your braid, avoiding getting egg on the silicone or parchment paper. Let this rise for approximately 1 hour. Brush again with egg wash and add 1/3 cup of sliced almonds. Crushed unsalted pistachios would also be stellar.

Bake approximately 35 minutes at 375. If you go with the round four strand braid, bump that up to 45 minutes because there’s a lot of dough in the center. If your bread is browning too quickly, cover with foil. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

For my nut-allergy friends or those who simply prefer chocolate: in lieu of sweet almond extract, use orange extract. Instead of cinnamon and sugar in the center, use extra small semi-sweet chocolate morsels. It’ll make your dough ropes bumpier but don’t be deterred. I like to dust a little powdered sugar over the top of these orange-chocolate loaves, but you do you.

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Apple Butter

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Kierra, this one’s for you.

Combine 6 large cored, peeled and sliced apples, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1.5 teaspoons lemon juice, 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, 1.5 teaspoons ground clove, and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. It doesn’t have to be oven safe, just sturdy. Stir together until the sugar coats apples and occasionally over the next few minutes while the sugar melts. Reduce to low heat and cover the pot. Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and mix in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. If you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to break it out; blend everything together until it has a consistency you like. You can also stir vigorously if you don’t have a stick blender. If, after hand mixing, the consistency isn’t quite what you’d like, wait until the apple butter cools and mix in a sturdy blender or food processor.

Enjoy!

 

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